Giggle Factory has new owners
Playtime will continue.
The Giggle Factory indoor playground on O'Neil Road in St. Croix Business Park was in danger of closing after founder Felicity Plansky moved back to England last year.
But now friends of Plansky's have stepped forward to purchase the business and keep it running.
Angela and Peter Norvold have experience when it comes to entertaining children.
Besides having three of their own children, Angela operates two in-home licensed childcares. And Peter has been assisting with the childcares since leaving his job as an ophthalmic technician, in which he set up laser equipment for eye surgeries.
Peter didn't want to be on the road so much while his children - Lily, Simon and Lucy - are growing up.
The Norvolds took over operation of the Giggle Factory on Feb. 1, and intend to run it much as Plansky did.
"We don't want to mess with the success that the regulars probably realize," Peter said.
What has changed is that the coffee and food bar has reopened after being closed since last summer.
"Coffee is a big deal," Peter said. The parents and other caregivers who come to the Giggle Factory enjoy having a cup while they sit in one of the comfortable leather club chairs and watch their youngsters scamper about on the multi-level play structure.
The food bar offers the essentials for parents and active youngsters - soups, salads, hot dogs, pizza, nachos, healthy drinks and treats.
The main attraction is the play structure, featuring slides, a moon ramp, squeeze rollers, a giant-ball room, a decision maze and other things for the children to explore.
There's also a toy-filled toddler area for children under 3.
What the Norvolds don't plan on adding is televisions or video games.
"The Giggle Factory is a spacious play area with comfortable seating for parents to watch their children. There isn't a lot more to distract," said Peter.
"A lot of imaginative play happens out here, which we may help with eventually," Angela added. The Norvolds are thinking about providing some costumes for children to use in their games.
The kids are learning as they play, the Norvolds say. They're learning to solve problems and cooperate with other children, as well as build self-confidence and independence.
The Giggle does have free Wi-Fi, which allows parents to surf the internet or read email on their laptops if they want.
At least some of the long-time Giggle Factory employees will remain on the staff. They include Jackie Johnson and her sisters Jamie and Jennifer, all of whom had been with the business since it opened in 2007.
Former manager Erika Cherrier also is expected to continue to play a role in the business.
The Giggle Factory, located at 2007 O'Neil Road, is open from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9:30 to 8 p.m. Friday, and 9 a.m. to noon Saturday and Sunday.
The admission price is $7 for children age 1 and older. Adults supervising children get in for free.
The space is available for private rentals weekday evenings and after 12:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The most popular package is a two-hour rental for $200, Peter said.
The facility is frequently used for birthday parties, but has also hosted first-communion parties, Thanksgiving and Christmas get-togethers, and other family gatherings,
The coffee and food bar isn't open for the private parties, but people may bring in their own food and drinks.
You can learn more about the Giggle Factory on its website, www.thegigglefactorykids.com, or on its Facebook page. The phone number is (715) 386-6639.